La Garrotxa: picturesque villages in the midst of volcanoes | Cultural Heritage. Goverment of Catalonia.


1. Espai Cràter (Author: Kris Ubach)
2. Sant Joan les Fonts church (Author: Alberto G. Rovi)
3. Castellfollit de la Roca (Author: Severin Stalder)

La Garrotxa: picturesque villages in the midst of volcanoes

The district's volcanic landscape, stunningly beautiful in the autumn, provides the setting for three places where heritage also has a prominent role: Olot, Sant Joan les Fonts and Castellfollit de la Roca.
We start the excursion in Olot, with its rich cultural life, its heritage, and its natural volcanic surroundings, which even form part of the town itself in the form of urban craters that appear between the labyrinth of the towns thoroughfares. The recently opened 'Espai Cràter' is therefore a must see. It is located within the Puig del Roser volcano and is a completely innovative and interactive exhibition full of information about the volcanoes in La Garrotxa and others around the world. It is open to the public for visits and there are also highly recommended guided visits to both the exhibition and to the Montsacopa volcano, one of Olot's iconic sites. Family workshops are also available.
Olot's museums are also well worth a visit. A visit to the Garrotxa museum is essential for an understanding of the legacy of the 'Olot School' with Marià Vayreda and Josep Berga as the main exponents of this style of landscape painting. Another exceptional museum is the Sants museum, devoted to the craft production of religious imagery, something that has a long tradition in Olot.
A stroll around the town will lead you to such beautiful Modernista buildings as the Casa Solà Morales, the Casa Gaietà Vila and the Casa Gassiot. The tourist office organises guided tours that reveal their secrets.
Sant Joan les Fonts, a small town nestling within a superb natural environment moulded by volcanic activity, is very close to Olot. The distinctively rose-coloured Romanesque church of the monastery of Sant Joan is highly worth a visit, and inside, its 12th-century capitals and baptismal font are remarkable. The church forms part of the Medieval Route which includes Juvinyà castle and a medieval bridge, made from volcanic rock.
The geology of Sant Joan les Fonts is very interesting and includes the cliffs of Font­freda, a spectacular ensemble of columns with prisms of more than three metres. They form part of the Tres Colades de Lava Route, which takes less than two hours on foot.
The high point is Castellfollit de la Roca, a village perched on a 50-metre high basalt rock cliff. Castell­follit is as spectacular seen from a distance, with its houses peering over the abyss, as it is at close quarters with its narrow streets leading to the ancient church of Sant Salvador, at the end of the cliff, where there is a lookout point with spectacular views.

An excursion proposed in collaboration with the magazine Descobrir.